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Juline, Mom, Jen, Diane, and Astrid pose in beautiful Vieux Lyon.  Astrid was always a fabulous hostess and cook.  When my mom visited the first time after she had hosted Jennifer for a month, she was so pleased to learn that it was Jennifer who was spécial and Americans do eat other things than ham!  Juline came to the U.S. the next summer and stayed with us for a month.  Here, Jennifer is older, eats more than ham, and has finally learned French after a year abroad in Toulouse. Photo Credit: Guessing Mamie Charlotte
Juline, Mom, Jen, Diane, and Astrid pose in beautiful Vieux Lyon. Astrid was always a fabulous hostess and cook. When my mom visited the first time after she had hosted Jennifer for a month, she was so pleased to learn that it was Jennifer who was spécial and Americans do eat other things than ham! Juline came to the U.S. the next summer and stayed with us for a month. Here, Jennifer is older, eats more than ham, and has finally learned French after a year abroad in Toulouse. Photo Credit: Guessing Mamie Charlotte

Hi,

My mom is still feeling the same as yesterday- still weak and very bothered by nausea and pain.  They have increased the pain medication so hopefully that will help with the latter.  She wrote some emails in the morning, and finished with Mad Men in the evening.  She also read some of The Casual Vacancy today.

Aunt Di arrived!  We are very happy to see her and laugh with her.

My parents and Aunt Di reminisced about the trip that they took at Christmas time in 1983 on the West Coast (pre-kids).  My parents flew to Seattle first and stayed with dear friends TC and Sandy who had recently moved there. They took a ferry to Victoria.  My dad says we should go to Victoria if we ever get a chance; it’s stunning.  

After Washington state, my parents flew to LA and stayed with another good high school friend Wetz.  They remember putting him on a plane to Chicago to celebrate the holidays.  It was 70 degrees in LA.  It was minus 20 in Chicago.  My parents wondered about Wetz’s mental state, voluntarily choosing a 90 degree temperature change.  I guess my mom took note then of how LA's climate could be a nice to reside in. 

My parents then drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. They stopped at Hearst Castle, and they also visited Carmel.  They made it by Christmas day to pick up Diane from SFO and headed up the 101 to Willits where my Dad’s Aunt Gerry and Uncle Walt. They spent a few days in San Francisco for the American Economics Association meetings. My dad explained that the AEA meetings always used to be held in between Christmas and New Years. That sounds horrible. They said it was fun. With friends Chris and Kay who had also been attending the meetings, they spent two nights in Yosemite.  They remember having a wonderful dinner in the magical dining room of the beautiful, imposing Ahwahnee Hotel on December 30th.  

On New Year's Eve, everyone had an early flight the next day so they decided that they could celebrate New Years on East Coast time. Always party animals, my parents.  Diane!  I would have expected more from you!

Except for the Willits part, this Californian itinerary all sounds very familiar.  Like, they did this trip years later with three always appreciative kids. We might not have loved all of the car time, but I did love visiting the Hearst Castle.  My brothers loved seeing the barking seals. My parents have taken us to some incredible places, and while it might not always have been clear in the moment, now we all appreciate it.  

For dinner, we had the second and last tomato jar sauce our Italian relatives’ nonna had prepared for us along with the pasta and parmesan they had brought from Italy. Gianni likes to say that the Bianchis show their love through food. Delicious!  We, along with our stomachs, felt very loved.

Love,

Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne